Since I last posted we have been on the go! As I’ve told you – we are heading west and have lots of miles to cover! You might want to get comfy!
Our first stop after Clearwater was Cedar Key FL. It was an easy ride up Rt19, except there were traffic light stops. The road itself was fine and after awhile, the lights became less frequent. We could have taken Rt 589 a.k.a. The Suncoast Parkway, but it was more miles (not too bad – under 20) but it is also a toll road and we try to avoid tolls if we can b/c as most of you know – tolls for a dually truck pulling a 40′ 5th Wheel are usually pretty ridiculous! Bill actually checked and it would have been almost $20 for the fairly short ride.
We had heard really great things about Cedar Key RV Park, and I’ve been wanting to check it out. When we found out our friends, Ed and Lynn, along with several other RV Dreamers, were spending the winter there – we booked 2 nights! The park did not disappoint! Very nice! Sites are large and well laid out, and include concrete pads for your rig and the picnic table. The grounds are beautifully landscaped and well maintained. There is a good size pool and great common building, complete with bar and lounge areas.
We arrived mid-afternoon and could see Ed and Lynn’s rig from our site, they were sitting outside with Bill and Linda. After hello hugs all around, and an invite to join them for dinner, Bill and I finished setting up.
Dinner was yummy at a local place right up the road. The company was even better! Bill and Linda learned we are heading to AK this summer and graciously offered to share their experiences with us, as they’ve been a few times. Afterward we sat outside with Ed and Lynn, catching up more with them. We met Ed and Lynn at the Boondock Rally we attended last February. You may remember, they were the ones who needed assistance from the “amateur swift water rescue team” after getting their kayak caught sideways trying to pass under a train trestle bridge and ending up in the water. Also – Ed made the BEST blueberry pancakes! Gin & Syl came around on their golf cart, clearly somewhat over-served, and having a great time! We had no idea they would be there either!
We were up early (for us) the next morning and found our way to the little town of Cedar Key to take a look around. Gin and Syl (RV Dreamers) had told us that the town reminded them of Ocracoke Island, and they were 100% right on! I just wish it hadn’t been so foggy! The views of the water must be really great when it is clear! Cedar Key is basically a small fishing village, no large stores, no Walmart, Home Depot or anything like that. Seemed like the kind of place where everyone knew everyone else! Bill and I both felt like it was the kind of place we could spend more time!
We arrived at Bill & Linda’s at the agreed upon time and they had a bunch of info to share with us! Linda’s Bill reminds me a bit of my Bill, in that they both take very detailed notes on things, which worked out great for us! They passed along some great tips and things to do, etc. We are very grateful to them! Thanks guys!
We joined the whole park for Happy Hour at the community room on our second and last evening at Cedar Key. We brought along Buffalo Chicken Dip and chips to share, as well as Rum and Coke to drink. We got to catch up a bit more with Gin & Syl, Tricia & Dan, as well as Ed & Lynn and Bill & Linda. A great time was had by all!
We were up and out early the next morning, as we had a longer drive day in front of us. We were heading to Gulf Shores to see Guy & Sue! They were staying at Gulf Shores State Park, and since they least expensive rate for one night was $52 – we opted instead to spend the night at the Cracker Barrel, which was about 8 miles up the road! As we were driving up, we learned that Gene & Eileen were also making their way to the same place! We eventually caught up with each other at a rest area on I 10 and they followed us the rest of the way. We pulled into the parking lot about 4pm. Eileen and I went in to speak to the manager, who was more than happy to have us out back for the night! We then texted Guy and he left right away to pick us up!
Sue put out this HUGE spread of food for us! Homemade Guacamole, Chili Relleno, salad and for dessert, an Apple Spice Dump cake thing. She made it like Eileen had made the Chocolate Lava cake, only used spice cake and apple pie filling instead. We talked well into the night and then Guy drove us back to Cracker Barrel, after goodbyes and hugs and even a tear or two. We were stuffed to the gills, all the food was delicious, and the company left our hearts feeling full also! Thanks for a great evening!
We arrived at Bayou Segnette State Park, just south west of New Orleans, by early afternoon and set up quickly. Gene & Eileen were at a CG on the north east side of New Orleans, so we agreed to meet up near the French Quarter to have dinner and walk on the famous Bourbon Street. Bill and I decided not to drive the truck, instead acting on a tip from Jo & Ben (who are in CA) and take the ferry. Probably the best advice to take in that area! When we got off the ferry and saw all the people in the streets, we knew we would not have had an easy time driving that HUGE truck in the area. Gene & Eileen opted to leave their car home, and grabbed a cab, which got them as close to Bourbon Street as he could. They were glad to not have their car, and they have a little car!
We had some dinner on Bourbon Street, at a place called LeBayou Restaurant. Gene decided to order Gator Bites as an appetizer and Bill ordered Shrimp YaYa, which our waiter recommended. I had stuffed fish and Bill had Shrimp Jambalaya. Gene & Eileen shared a combo platter, which included samples (not really – the portions were large!) of 4 different Cajun dishes. The food was good, but the company was the BEST!
After dinner, we just walked on Bourbon Street, taking in all the sights, and believe me, there were a lot of sights! I’ll let the pics do the talking!
After a few hours, we said our “see you later”‘s and went home, agreeing to talk the next day about what we wanted to do. I had mentioned about going on an Airboat Swamp Tour, so more research was needed for that!
After a quiet, lazy morning, we decided Gene & Eileen would come over to our place and we would do the 4pm Airboat Swamp tour. The tour left from right up the street from the State Park, so it was convenient to leave from there.
When we got home, we had dinner, which was sort of pot-luck style we each contributed to. It worked out well and we enjoyed the evening at the rig.
The following day, we had been invited to dinner at yet another RV Dreamer friend’s house, about an hour away from where we were. Bridget sure did cook us up some great Cajun dishes! Trout meuniere, gumbo, shrimp and crab cakes, roasted red potatoes and asparagus, with King Cake for dessert! OMG – so much food! We loved catching up with Bridget and seeing her beautiful southern home! She even sent us home with some of the King Cake and a bunch of oranges freshly picked (she picked them while we were there) in her small (maybe 10 trees) orchard. Sadly, we missed seeing her hubby Pat, but he was on a long-planned for trip with his son. Thank you Bridget for a great evening!
Before we pulled out in the morning, Bill went to pick us up some shrimp at a local place just up the road, basically a few seafood sellers with their fresh catches.
Our time in New Orleans was short, and more time there is definitely needed, but we have to keep moving for now!
Our next stop was in Lake Charles, LA. Remember I told you, we literally ran into James & Cindy at the Tampa RV Show? Well, they invited us to spend a couple nights with them, and we happily accepted. We got there just as Cindy got home from work and she helped Bill get parked in their side yard, which just happens to have full hook-ups!
I had made a lasagna the day before to take with and share, as no one was going to feel like cooking, not me on move day and not Cindy, after working all day. James arrived as we were finishing up our short stay set-up. When we are only staying a night or two, we don’t unroll all the small area rugs, just the big one, and we don’t put away all the straps that hold the chairs down, etc. We caught up with each other over dinner and finally I said to Bill that we needed to let them get to sleep, as they both had to work early the next morning. Cindy handed me keys to the back door and said I was more than welcome to do laundry, which I was very grateful for!
Bill and I puttered around in the morning, I got laundry started and we looked at some of the brochures Cindy and James had picked up for us. (wasn’t that so considerate of them?) We decided to go see the Mardi Gras Museum, which was only about 10 minutes away. We also needed to stop at Sam’s Club for a couple items, and Bill wanted to fill up on fuel there.
We didn’t know quite what to expect at the museum, but we were very pleasantly surprised! It was a HUGE collection of costumes worn by the Mardi Gras Kings and Queens over the years. They were all very elaborate and HUGE and colorful and just amazing! What was nice is we were seeing them up close, so you could see all the detail that they have!
That night, James & Cindy very generously took us out to dinner to one of their favorite places. The food was really good, we had gator bites, fried crab claws, stuffed mushrooms, and fried catfish bites as an appetizer, and then for dinner I got grilled shrimp, which were cooked perfectly! They were lightly seasoned with cajun spices, just enough that I could taste it but it didn’t hide the flavor of the shrimp, which were very fresh! Bill had shrimp etouffee, which he loved, had just the right amount of heat! I got to take home my baked potato – which I loaded up with cheese and bacon! None of us had room for dessert!
Afterward, James drove around and gave us a short tour of the waterfront area. We parked and got out to walk, but didn’t stay out too long, it was cold! Both James & Cindy were raised in Lake Charles, and they raised their daughter there, and I could feel their pride in their hometown as they told us about it. I recognized it b/c I felt that way when we took Jo & Craig to the Jersey Shore last summer and showed them around!
Before I close I need to say a HUGE thanks to Guy & Sue, Bridget (& Pat), and Cindy & James for your generous hospitality! You have made this portion of our trip very special and we appreciate it very much!
Whew! Thanks for hanging in there with me! This has become a LONG post! Hope you don’t mind! We are currently in TX, but you will have to wait until next time to hear about that! I will leave you for today with a pic of this sticker Bill saw on the back of a tuck while taking out the garbage one day.